brightidea

[10/19/10: UPDATE! PiBoIdMo 2010 is almost underway. See announcement.]

[11/1/09: UPDATE! PiBoIdMo 2009 has launched! Click here for details!]

November is only a few weeks away, so while novel-writing friends gather up their character notebooks and plot outlines, I’m preparing to do exactly what I did in November 2008: generate one new picture book idea a day.

This is different from Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee last May, when writers wrote one new picture book a day for seven days. (Phew! I couldn’t keep up with that.)

And it’s different from YA author Jo Knowles’ JoNoWriMo, where children’s writers take aΒ  month and a half more (from mid-September to November 30) to complete a kidlit project.

This November’s writing challenge is all about ideas.

They say it takes 10 to 30 days to form a habit, so I’m encouraging picture book writers to get in the daily habit of idea generation. Do it for November, let it continue into December, and start off the new year still collecting tiny seeds that may some day sprout into a story.

An idea for a picture book could be as simple as a title, like Misfit Museum. Or you could take a fall stroll one afternoon and be inspired by foliage floating on a lake. (You might jot down “watercolor pond.”) It doesn’t have to be a full concept, or even a good one. Heck, I’m sure we’ll all have some stinkers in there. But by creating an idea file, you’ll have a document to turn to when you’re low on inspiration.

Why is this a good idea? During an online chat with literary agent Sean McCarthy last year, he was asked about the qualities his ideal client might possess. “Prolific-ness” was his answer. Agents like when their picture book authors are constantly creating. That means there’s more potential books to sell.

At the end of November, you should have 30 new story starters (or close to 30…we do have Thanksgiving festivities to think about). Last year I walked away with 22 ideas, four of which turned into picture books. And I refer to that idea file at least once a week.

Now all we need is a flashy name. NaNoWriMo-lite? (Way, way lite. With extra cream and sugar.) Nah. Something snazzier. Give it a try! It needs a name!

If you’d like to participate, please comment below. I promise to post ideas for idea generation all November long and check in with progress reports.